The Bids Are In!

This week’s Webster-Kirkwood Times had an article about the recent (Park)ing Day in Webster Groves. SWT Landscaping had participated by turning two parking spaces into tiny, temporary parks for the day. The article noted that SWT, a Webster Groves-based firm, also designed the new Sculpture Garden at Gore and Kirkham, and was working with the City on the Forty Acres project. I wish the article had added that SWT is also in the process of finding a contractor to install the landscaping they have just designed for the Library.

Although our renovation and expansion project was substantially completed in December 2012, we haven’t redone the landscaping around the old part of the building yet. We were waiting through one growing season to see what plantings were still healthy and what would need to be replaced. A generous gift from the Bronner Family Foundation provided money to have SWT design the new landscaping.

The bids have come in, and we will soon decide which contractor will install new plantings all around the Lockwood and Orchard sides of the building. We hope to have the work completed before the end of October.

SWT’s overall design for the Library’s landscaping is a complete concept, including pathways, seating areas and storytelling areas. We have talked about approaching it in phases, as we can afford it. Taking care of the foundation plantings is phase one, and we’re very excited to see it completed.

Great Author Events

Sometimes, when it rains it pours. Sometimes we can go a long time without any very interesting author events coming our way. But this autumn, we have three!

First up will be bestselling science fiction and fantasy author R.A. Salvatore. He is appearing in October’s Archon 38 convention in St. Louis, and will make a stop by Webster Groves Public Library on the night of October 2 (7 p.m.) to talk about and sign his books Demon Wars and Rise of the King. This event is sponsored by all the libraries of the Municipal Library Consortium, and Left Bank Books will be selling copies of the books.

Next up is former newsman and author Julius K. Hunter. He has just written a new novel called Priscilla and Babe. It is about two real women, emancipated slaves who made their way north and set up one of the most lavish and notorious brothels in St. Louis history. Full of adventure and scandal, with cameos by many of the period’s celebrated personalities, it is a rollicking look at what really went on in Victorian-era St. Louis. Julius Hunter will be our special guest when our Saturday Afternoon Book Club discusses Priscilla and Babe November 1 at 2 p.m.

And finally, on the afternoon of November 8, we will have a very special poetry reading by the editors of River Styx. It’s hard to believe that the area’s premier literary journal is already forty years old. In celebration, we will hear short readings from Ron Austin, Allison Creighton, Shanie Latham, Ben Moeller-Gaa, Lizzy Petersen, Tanya Seale and Jennifer Tappenden. Editor-in-Chief Richard Newman will read selections from his newest book, All the Wasted Beauty in the World.

We hope you’ll be able to join is us for one or more of these exciting events. For more information about any of them, call the library at (314) 961-3784, or e-mail me at


Do you know what heraldry is? As I ask the question I am assuming that, as with most things, some readers will know exactly what it is, some will have a vague idea, and some will have no clue–perhaps have never heard the word. That’s okay. It’s been many centuries since heraldry was very relevant in our lives.

But when I first began working in libraries in the last few decades of the twentieth century, heraldry was still a fairly popular subject of study for a number of hobbyists and history buffs. Libraries had books on the subject and librarians knew where to find information about it. At the History and Genealogy Department of St. Louis Public Library’s Central Library there was one older librarian who was probably the region’s leading expert on heraldry.

These past few weeks I have been weeding our non-fiction collection. I have worked my way into the 900s, which is history in the Dewey Decimal System, and one of our largest collections. What I do when I want to weed out old and unused books from the collection is run what librarians somewhat playfully call a ‘dusty books list.’ It is actually a list of all the books in a specified collection that have not been checked out in a specified time period. I am using five years. I go out and collect all of these books, check to make sure we have other books on the subjects they cover, or that they are not classic works by important authors, and withdraw the ones that do not make a strong case for themselves.

Today I learned that Webster Groves Public Library has six books on heraldry. All six were on the dusty books list. Of course I am not going to withdraw everything in our collection on heraldry, even if it is apparent that nobody reads about heraldry any more. I chose to keep the newer ones and withdraw the older ones.

I am a lover of history. I read many books on a variety of subjects in history every year. It displeases me when I find that books on the Mycenaeans or Louis XIV are not being read. It is a hard decision to get rid of them–but I can’t make people read books they don’t want to read, can I? We have to make room for all the new books that are constantly flooding our shelves, with the ever-present optimism that someone will read them. But when it comes to some subjects, like heraldry, I find myself unable to get rid of them altogether, regardless of how uninterested people may be in them.

I realize that some readers are waiting for me to provide a description or definition of what heraldry is, but I am not going to. For that, you’ll just have to check out one of our remaining books on the subject, and learn for yourselves.